Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"In the past few decades American institutions have struggled with the temptations of politics. Professions and academic disciplines that once possessed a life and structure of their own have steadily succumbed, in some cases almost entirely, to the belief that nothing matters beyond politically desirable results, however achieved." - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork

"Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason, and invective for documentation than in politics. That is a realm, peopled only by villains or heroes, in which everything is black or white and gray is a forbidden color." -

"The seven sins of the world. Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Worship without sacrifice. Politics without principle." -

"[Paraphrase] The most dangerous walls are not political or military boundaries but the walls that mutually divide individual people and that divide our own souls. My presidential agenda would be to bring spirituality, moral responsibility and humility into politics and, in that respect, to make clear that there is something higher above us." -

"There is a wholly mistaken zeal in politics as well as in religion. By persuading others, we convince ourselves." -

"Since human beings have a moral conscience, a spiritual self and a physical self, we can choose among various options. And we are responsible for the consequences of our choices. We can put the common interests of humankind above the conflicts of ideological, racial, religious and national groups. We can bring together thought and feeling, politics and moral values, women and men, the underprivileged and the privileged.... The essence of life is to search for happiness. To realize this end, we must become one with the human family, one with the universe... We should live as if we were to die today. We should die as if we live forever." - Petra Kelly, fully Petra Karin Kelley

"Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is a temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship." - James Russell Lowell

"Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics." -

"The twin concepts of sin and vindictive punishment seem to be at the root of much that is most vigorous, both in religion and politics." -

"The premises of politics lie in the conclusions of the ethics." - Lord Samuel, Herbert Louis Samuel, First Viscount Samuel

"If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth, and so go to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!" - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds." - Henry Gardiner Adams

"Practical politics consists in ignoring facts." - Henry Gardiner Adams

"Recipe for success: Be polite, prepare yourself for whatever you are asked to do, keep yourself tidy, be cheerful, don't be envious, be honest with yourself so you will be honest with others, be helpful, interest yourself in your job, don't pity yourself, be quick to praise, be loyal to your friends, avoid prejudices, be independent, interest yourself in politics, and read the newspapers." - Bernard Baruch, fully Bernard Mannes Baruch

"No great advance has ever been made in science, politics, or religion, without controversy." - Lyman Beecher

"Utopias are realizable, they are more realizable than what has been presented as 'realist politics' and what has simply been the calculated rationalism of armchair politicians. Life is moving towards utopias. But perhaps a new age is opening up before us, in which the intelligentsia and the cultured classes will dream of ways to avoid utopias and return to non-utopian society, to a less 'perfect', a freer society." -

"In politics, merit is rewarded by the possessor being raised, like a target, to a position to be fired at." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Protecting something as wide as this planet is still an abstraction for many. Yet I see the day in our own lifetimes that reverence for the natural systems - the oceans, the rain forests, the soil, the grasslands, and all other living beings - will be so strong that no narrow ideology based upon politics or economics will overcome it." - Jerry Brown

"Politics is a place of humble hopes and strangely modest requirements, where all good who are not criminal and all are wise who are not ridiculously otherwise." - Frank Moore Colby

"Truth isn’t outside power, or lacking in power: contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, truth isn’t the reward of free spirits, the child of protracted solitude, nor the privilege of those who have succeeded in liberating themselves. Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctions; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true." - Michel Foucault

"I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do unless I took part in politics." -

"The central event of the twentieth century is the overthrow of matter. In technology, economics, and the politics of nations, wealth in the form of physical resources is steadily declining in value and significance. The powers of mind are everywhere ascendant over the brute force of things." - George F Gilder

"The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous convention of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Politics, as a trade, finds most and leaves nearly all dishonest." - Abraham Lincoln

"The essence of politics is compromise." -

"Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed." -

"A man of active and resilient mind outwears his friendships just as certainly as he outwears his love affairs, his politics, and his epistemology." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"Politics, as hopeful men practice it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"Politics is the science of exigencies." - Joseph Parker

"It is clear that property in itself owes allegiance to no particular form of government, and is bound by no dynastic or legal ties. Its politics may be summed up in a single word: exploitation, or even anarchy. It is the most formidable enemy and most treacherous ally of any form of power. In short, in its relation to the State it is governed by only one principle, one sentiment, one concern: self-interest, or egoism... That is why all governments, all utopias, and all Churches distrust property... We can conclude that property is the greatest existing revolutionary force, with an unequaled capacity for setting itself against authority." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"A lot of history is just dirty politics cleaned up for the consumption of children and other innocents." - Richard Reeves

"All politics are based on indifference of the majority." - James Reston, fully James Barrett Reston

"Experience suggests that the first rule of politics is never to say never. The ingenious human capacity for maneuver and compromise may make acceptable tomorrow what seems outrageous or impossible today." - William V. Shannon, fully William Vincent Shannon

"The crucial thing about the melting pot was that it did not happen: American politics and American social life are still dominated by the existence of sharply-defined ethnic groups." - Charles E. Silberman

"In politics a community of hatred is almost always the foundation of friendships." - Alexis de Tocqueville, fully Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville

"Unless we insist that politics is imagination and mind, we will learn that imagination and mind are politics, and of a kind we will not like." - Lionel Trilling

"Politics make strange bedfellows." - Charles Dudley Warner

"Not from successful love alone, nor wealth, nor honor’d middle age, nor victories of politics or war; but as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm, as gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky, as softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like fresher, balmier air, as days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs really finish’d and indolent-ripe on the tree, then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all! The brooding and blissful halcyon days!" - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Politics drives diplomacy, not vice versa." - James Baker, fully James Addison Baker, III

"Politics is not the art of the possible; it is the art of making possible what is necessary." - Jacques Chirac, fully Jacques René Chirac

"Either for God or against God… Upon that choice hangs the fate of the world. In every department of life, in politics and economics, in the sciences and arts, in the State and in domestic life we follow God’s laws to peace or bypass them into chaos." -

"All politics is global." -

"God is no dictator. He leaves us the freedom to master ourselves." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"One must eat and breathe before concerning himself with politics, social affairs, and culture." - Park Chung-hee

"Politics is, among other things, the art of anticipating consequences." - Irving Howe

"Politics is not about objective reality, but virtual reality. What happens in the political world is divorced from the real world. It exists for only the fleeting historical moment, in a magical movie of sorts, a never-ending and infinitely revisable docudrama. Strangely, the faithful understand that the movie is not true – yet also maintain that it is the only truth that really matters." - Michael Kelly

"The art of crisis management, now widely acknowledged to be the essence of statecraft, owes its vogue to the merger of politics and spectacle. Propaganda seeks to create in the public a chronic sense of crisis, which in turn justifies the expansion of executive power and the secrecy surrounding it." - Christopher Kit Lasch

"There is no morality in politics; there is only expediency." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin